In Estonia they are so familiar with the economic crisis, they have given it a nick-name: "Masu", which comes from Majandus Krisis- Economic Crisis. Headlines are full of the latest doings of this wayward creature: the latest fall in retail sales, the steady slowing of lending, the gradual deceleration of the economy. The Masu is developing its own personality: rather like a bear, damaging and clumsy though, rather than rapacious.
Today, however, the Masu is off the front pages and there is some better economic news: Estonia has joined the OECD, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.
"So what?" many will ask, not knowing what the OECD actually is.
The -now thirty-five member- body is essentially the club of wealthy and democratic states, committed to open government and open economies. For Estonia to be accepted as a member reflects a vote of confidence in the stability and prospects for the country. It also promotes them into a fairly exclusive club of Western markets that are automatically regarded as sound investments.
Mind you, several Estonian friends have said that they don't think it is such a great thing: after all, Greece was a founder member of the club. Certainly the Greek "Masu" seems to have much stronger claws than in Estonia. Nevertheless, even after a fall in numbers of about one third, there are still more Euro millionaires in Estonia than in Greece, which is ten times the population. Of course, that is simply according to the tax statistics.
I think that probably explains why Estonia's trajectory is so much more positive than that of Greece: there is simply a greater culture of honesty here. The Masu is beginning to look ever less threatening from the perspective of Tallinn- even with early Euro entry a prospect for next January.
In Athens, on the other hand...